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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  May 15, 2011 4:00pm-5:00pm EDT

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grew up outside new york in new jersey with a little city and grew up with parents who were in the arts. my father is a celloist, now retired. a mother who was an editor. and i went to university of princeton and then graduate school at harvard. and ended up about 14 or 15 years ago here in charlottesville where i've been teaching european history and atlantic history really ever since. >> what's life like at uva? >> it's actually a wonderful place to teach. it's a good place to teach about the 18th century as you might imagine. the students are excellent. it's, you know, as you probably have seen a beautiful place to live. and it's an interesting place insofar it's something -- it occupies a space between a big state public university and a smaller liberal arts school for
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something like an ivy league school. it is an interesting amalgam of the two, public/private in state, out of state and the quality of life here is enhanced here by there being a number of professional schools, too, especially a law school filled with really interesting people. so i've been very happy being here. >> tenured? >> yes. .. despite being simultaneously engaged always with research and writing project.
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so almost all my colleagues away somewhere in the process of writing books and articles -- pressure might not be the rightward after while, but it just becomes what you do. >> were there any legalities of using a naming the book treated to? >> i don't know. i hadn't thought of that. i hope i don't discover that after the fact. there were as legality of publishing some of the images as always is the case. common sense is not a copyrighted term. it's part of our vocabulary. it's a commonsensical part of our vocabulary and it's been appropriated through every kind. if you go to amazon and type in comments sense, you'll see a common sense of investing, common sense of receiving your backyard. >> second book? >> this is my second book, yes.
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>> sophia rosenfeld, professor at the university of regina and author of "common sense" joining us on booktv. >> up next, joshua kendall, author of "the forgotten founding father" reports on mr. webster's political career, and 10 years at "american minerva." this is a little under an hour. >> it is my pleasure to welcome you here. we are very happy to have this jointly sponsored program by the connecticut historical society and i know western house historical society with the book for this evening's program. i'm very pleased to introduce the dirt to introduce our
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speaker today. >> thank you all for coming out tonight. what a pleasure to have treated for it here and be able to collaborate with the connecticut historical society. before he say anything else, i'd like to think the greater arts council, which is allowing us to use this collaboration tonight. we appreciate their purport. josh i first met while he was researching no webster and later i was doing a similar discussion at night on a totally different language character. the book, the man who made the list, which is a fabulous book. i can't wait to go through it. i have to go through reading the first chap durso that is the more accessible to that i've ever read on noah webster.
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usually you have to get through. this one you slide right through. it's a great bookies put together i can't wait to hear in tonight. well, josh kendall was born in new york city. he received a ba laude from the outcome where he studied literature. he would also did graduate work at john hopkins. first excellence in reporting psychiatry he has received national journalism awards from both the national mental health association, which is now mental health america and the american psychoanalytic association. he lives in boston where he will indulge in his love of squash. he is currently an associate fellow at beals humble college. i give you josh kendall.
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[applause] >> thanks so much, chris and mary. it's a pleasure to be here in the building where it used to be in this building. noah webster was never in this building, but noah webster spoke in connecticut historical society back in the day and my book has the last public speech he ever gave at the historical society, which i researched in this building. so it's really exciting to be here. my book is called "the forgotten founding father" and it really should have an asterix because in the hartford and west hartford, noah webster was not forgotten. he's not a forgotten founding father. the point of the book is to tell the rest of the country about
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just how much noah webster has achieved, particularly in my state of massachusetts i do a lot of my research i boston a&m and the first thing you see is a big portion of daniel webster and that is part of the problem. a lot of americans think you know what the dictionary, particularly in massachusetts. so i want to tell you about webster's incredible shrinking reputation after his death in 1843. when he died, he is considered a national treasure. one historian says he is up there in america's trinity of fame along with columbus in washington. in 1850, jefferson davis who is then senator from mississippi says the following. we have a unity of language which no other people possess and rarely above all to noah
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webster's spelling book. today noah webster is not confuse that daniel is best known for the dictionary. but in his lifetime he was best known for his valor. it comes out in 1783. and that was the harry potter of his day. they had 3 million in 1783 and its first year the book sold 5000 copies. over the next century that book would sell 100 million copies. and that looked outside generations of americans how to read including jefferson davis and with his valor, his dictionary, which came out half a century later, noah webster give this american english and that this singular achievement. so if you think about it, with the most ethically diverse nation on the face of the earth.
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let us speak the same language. that's american english. if you go to old europe to save france or italy or spain, every claim i else people speak a different dialect. but not in america and that is due to noah webster. the boston a&m has spellers so three years after jefferson davis says this, he becomes the president of the confederacy in the south has been trying to kill the north. but the southerners still want to learn english to noah webster way. at the boston a&m they have confederate spellers. they couldn't do without noah webster. it changed for the present conditions of the speller is a gradeschool students. one sentence was the president's term is four years.
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i looked at one for georgia and the president's term of six years. again, we have this one language with american like in 1861. this is a singular achievement. now his reputation start to dwindle as the speller goes out of goes out of print around 1900 what the satirist ambrose pearce said in 1911. howell, the eternal resting place of the late...had to deal with had to deal with this personality. webster alienated a lot of friends in his life. he had a friend from yale, joe borrow, a poet. webster had a conversion after 30 years he never wanted to talk
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to them again. all of a sudden. two years later i look it's a position in the madison administration of webster asked for a favor as if not then have happened. he could be very crotchety and he also alienated six biographies of webster and a couple of historian said they wanted to write a biography but they just didn't like them. and i guess the challenge for biographers to capture complexity of a person and i think his achievement is remarkable and he is a very complicated person with a lot of different parts and that is very exciting for me as a biographer. they talked about the tina webster collen. an eloquent senator in the middle 19th century.
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let's give you some key dates of your life. he was torn in west hartford which in 1758 wasn't west hartford yet. west hartford doesn't become west hartford till after 1800. in the 1770s he has all these forests come moments related to the founding. so he goes d.o. and his father -- he and his father go on a horse and one of them walks. we don't know who does what. they go to yale, part the worst of the presidents house. in june 1775 george washington is in town and i write about this in the book in new haven on route two cambridge where he is going to take command and the
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militia that greets him. this is kind of a forest gump was tangentially related to history. a decade later he'll start to shape history. computer virus. thanks. a decade later he started to shape history. in 1777 hit another forrest gump on it in a summer vacation before his senior at heel. he, his father and two brothers go to saratoga where he was there for a couple of months and as most of you know we didn't win too many battles, but that was a critical battle and that was the battle -- that pacific tree. inundate arnold has a famous charge and that was the battle to cut the french on our side and for the rest of his latest webster was very proud of having
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been there. in 1783 he writes his valor and i told you that the 19th century harry potter. he also developed the infrastructure for the moderate republican business. he gives the book to her. he goes around from massachusetts to charleston and he also gets blurred from franklin. he tries to get a blurb from washington, but washington declined. the other thing he does is he is the father of copyright law. so it is book is starting to sell and he decides he's afraid of piracy but he goes to every single state capital to pass copyright laws. everyone at the site achievements had so many of them and the father of copyright law is one of these many achievements.
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noah webster at the age of 25 has that seller and he always thinks he knows every thing in sometimes he really does. in 1785, he decides what's wrong with america and was spot on. the problem he says this after the articles of federation from the federal government didn't have enough power. so he writes this pamphlet called sketches of american policy. and when noah webster has an idea, he does some things and he takes it to mount vernon and takes it to george washington. washington was on a college guy. john adams was a harvard man. washington was in college. he's very impressed by webster and it's a very interesting idea and he's a great delegator. so he says i'll give it to mr. madison as soon as possible. he gives it to madison in
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webster's pamphlet becomes instrumental in the drafting constitution. in 1787, webster's at the constitutional convention. they are now evolving into mover and shaker moments. in 1787 he set the constitutional convention. as soon as washington arrives, the first thing he does is not on webster's door. he's not a delicate. if there is a journalist at the convention than realizes talent. right after the convention may ask them to draft a pamphlet in support of the constitution is compared to pamphlet to the federalist papers and may have been circulated throughout the entire country and was ready and published right after the convention is supposed to federalist papers which were mostly in new york. i have a chapter called courtship and constitutional
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convention because at the convention they meet the women who will becoming his wife, rebecca greenlee. rebekah is from a wealthy boston family. her father was william greenlee, the sheriff of sufferer in july july 1776 and he reads the declaration of independence from the old statehouse in boston. he and rebecca have seven children in webster's career path is similar to peter blue jays career path and one of the key features of it is she's from a very wealthy family. when his daughters are thinking of getting married, he says look for the stock. he married this classy woman. they were happily married for seven children. in 1793, webster develops a strong relationship with
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washington and in 1793, washington has a problem. the jeffersonians -- there were no political parties. it was now run the jeffersonians and they're interested in aligning with france to getting involved in another war with england. washington wants to stay neutral, so he turns to his right-hand man, noah webster junior and appoints him the editor of "american minerva." in those days, newspapers or party organs and the "american minerva" is new york city's first daily newspaper. and he works at it for five years from 1793 to 1798. "the new york post," the people you can still pick up at your cbs stars because webster and alexander hamilton have a fight. he writes he is allied with webster in the 1790s. they have a fight in about 1800 that leads to a split in the
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federalist party that leads to jefferson's election and he starts "the new york post" which is the first continuous published daily. in 1798, webster has money coming in from selling a lot and he decides to retire and moves back to new haven and moves into the arnold house, gets the benedict arnold. he gets a good deal because the houses painted and is the classiest house in new haven. benedict arnold was a merchant who had eight new house on water street in new haven said he can see the ships and webster moves in. i looked at the deed and it has all the creature mounts including the second outhouse which is so many bathrooms
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today. so he moves into the arnold house and then he starts to work. now the british lexicographer worked on the dictionary for money. he once said no one but it can't ever wrote for money. the webster's career path is the opposite. webster make his money from the speller in the speller is the cash cow that allows them to work on a dictionary. the dictionary is what you love to do more than any thing else and he had this obsessive personality. for the next 45 years he's going to work on the dictionary and he's got to take on not only samuel johnson, the first edition of this english dictionary in 1755, but it's got to take a samuel johnson junior. there was one american dictionary written in 1798 by samuel johnson junior, a public
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that can come up with a better pen name in johnson junior. he's from connecticut. so webster first test take on john junior. johnson junior dictionary reads like a contemporary saurus. in 1806, webster publishes a compendious dictionary of english language which is his right draft, replacement for johnson junior and that is going to work for the next 20 years on the big dictionary. and the interesting thing is that american were not interested in the american dictionary. americans love samuel johnson. i root for the globe. johnson absolutely hated americans. he sent away to love all mankind except for americans. but americans love samuel johnson and everyone swore by the authority and there was
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little interest, but webster wanted to write the dictionary and he did it. his perseverance is truly admirable. >> this was webster's kerrick your and this was the challenge of biographer is to really understand the person and joseph al-assad no webster is not the stuff of american mythology. we let people like washington how he handled that theme with webster delegating brilliantly, just talking of her decision. webster isn't that way. he kind of pops up in that it becomes 50 he says no one under 45 should be allowed to vote. that just doesn't make any sense. and that's why joel porter says he's no joseph stalin. in her article on webster's annoying personality, she
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said -- she goes into a two-page site about a murderous tater. he wasn't evil man. he was a likable man. i guess the challenge was to understand him and i think yet excessive compulsive personality disorder. that's what psychologists say to david he loved rules and less. that's not the same as ocd. people with ocd have trouble functioning. if you have someone with ocd, the difference between the personality disorder and the actual disorder might not be able to leave the house. they're afraid that if the burner on others so anxious. but people with oecd function better than well. the way i understood webster is three boston analogy. we had a red sox player in manny ramirez with kind of pop off into ridiculous things in fenway
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park and the way of boston sportswriter says that's just manny being manny. if you think every once in a while my comment about no one being allowed to vote no of you know. he becomes kind of lovable and appreciate who he was. for an as opposed to johnson the dictionary was at dream job. as i write in a psychology today piece of someone with a personality disorder find an out they functioned beautifully but not so well for their families. they're the type of people who don't see a psychiatrist and drive other family members to see a psychiatrist. so they can be difficult, but he found an outlet. the thing about webster is out
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of this painting monument to american culture do we really need to appreciate that. so use a compiler extraordinaire. again, this is part of it. not only was he a great wordsmith, but he goes on this book tour in 1785 and in each city does come a as a personal house count. i have the list that i'll show you at the end. philadelphia at 4582 houses. he doesn't like round numbers so we called up 4600. and that data got folded into the first sentence. this is obsessive. now he also in the 1790s, while he's the editor of the first newspaper was this major public health crisis in 1790s. philadelphia in 1793, the population literally decimated. 5000 people died.
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in 1795 when webster was in new york, there is another outbreak of yellow fever and he's terrified. what does he do click the start to collect data. in this paper he writes the world's first scientific survey and sends his survey out in the ur an announcement positions in new haven and all across the country and then he writes what he calls a brief history of epidemic and pestilential diseases. brief for webster's 700 pages. he's an obsessive. william ostler who is a well-known position at johns hopkins said this is one of the best works on medicine by a layman and basically inaugurates the public health. again, that's another site achievement which for anyone else would be a lifetime of work. when he goes to new haven, he
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also wants to collect data about connecticut and he sent out a survey. he wants to do inventory of the state. webster begins this project and later becomes involved in this connecticut academy of arts and science is and by that time the sun to the dictionary but they do a statistical account. timothy dwight writes a 150 page article in new haven where they talk about exactly what to new haven. webster is compiling and rubs off on this connecticut colleagues in the cow project which gives us a wonderful stop shot of dozens of connecticut towns. and webster also is america's pedagogue and while he's at the arnold housework sunday for volume encyclopedia for children. again, another little side project called elements of
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useful knowledge covers natural history and geography is also pet peeves and so does the dictionary. remember jeffersonians are close to the french. he's doing a geography and the ferocious miss the kerrick terror. and so i told you about noah webster marries a woman named rebecca greenlee, has a love affair with another rebecca when he was about 20. it doesn't work out. she thought her husband was dead, but her husband comes back from the war and the review equips 100 years later. there's nothing in his diary about the other rebecca. but it took them a whole dictionary to express his feelings. so in his compiling, he's also kicking in parts of his own life. alright, now i want to tell you a little bit about how he does
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the dictionary. in 1806 he does the dictionary and i went to manuscript libraries up and down the east coast and the complete draft of the dictionary is there is no one draft or the family started telling of pages of their pages of the morgan library computers at yale and all over the place. in the small museum in new haven, i found the first page and surprise surprise the dictionary started with a and that was the end paper. so november 3rd, 1970 starts the dictionary and the page looks quite similar to the published page 20 years later. he does systematically go through amv. i make a joke in the book that writing a dictionary by yourself
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come as webster finds out always takes longer than expected. the tape five years, 10 years but it ends up taking within 20 years. remember, i told you that webster always thinks he knows what to write and many times he does. in the 1780s he was spot on. ..
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he says, etymology is word history, and word history is a history of facts, and webster made a lot of speculations, and in the book i talk at it in detail. he makes one speculation to back up another speculation, and i have a sense that he was -- remember i told you about how the dictionary for him is kind of therapy. for most of us, the task of writing a dictionary would probably drive us crazy. for him it may well have prevented him from going crazy. if you're obsessive and you have something to focus on, its helps. i have a sense the etymology worked for him, and in the american culture, the etymology gathers dust. so in 1812 he moves to amherst. there's the war of 1812 and the
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economy is tanking, and webster is making money from the speller, but he wants to cut his expenses because the dictionary is taking longer, and then he says he is back to search. in 1821, he is on to h. now a little bit about his method. the new york public library has the dictionary he worked on. has his 1799 copy of samuel johnson's dictionary. you can see his annotations. samuel johnson loved shakespeare and is constantly quoting shakespeare. webster buts little black marks next to shakes spear. when webster was a student, students were penalized for attending a play or performing a
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play, and webster really hates shakespeare, and he rarely quotes shakespeare, but in his 1828 dictionary, he blames shakespeare for the dirty words. so there's a word, and web still with just right shak, shack, as if shakespeare invented it. the 1799 johnson is his base. there's one-third of the definitions he takes from johnson and also adding material. and webster read very widely, and the one thing that johnson is missing is the enlightenment, that the sciences, physics, chemistry, and biology are all exploding at the end of the 18th century, and webster reads everything and added all these new scientific terms. so hi 1828 dictionary has 70,000 words a opposed to 58,000 of the latest edition of johnson.
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johnson's dictionary had 43,000, the 1755 dictionary. he also uses robert ainsworth, who wrote a latin dictionary. so he is using those as his base, and then adding, based on his own reading, lots of new words. and then he is also doing his own definitions, and by the third he is doing closely on johnson, but then he is redoing a lot of the words in johnson. >> here's another side achievement, which would be for anyone else a major achievement. he helps to found amherst college. webster is always fulminating, and today he might make a good policy person on a cable tv news show, talking about the evils of the administration in 1820, he basically wants to establish a
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yale in massachusetts. because he is a congregationalist, and there's a religious that are new england between the congregationalists and unitarians in boston, and he says a college is needed, i love this phrase -- to check the progress of errors, as there can be progress in errors, which are propagated in cambridge. he doesn't like harvard. he becomes the profit theboard of trustees, and the original plan is to steal williams college. williams college is having a lot of problems. they had $3,000 coming from the endowment and $4,000 of expenses. so they're in trouble. and williams protects himself. ends up -- it founds the first alumni association. so it can send off webster and the people in amherst. but they steal the williams president, this fellow moore,
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and a quarter of the students, and webster presides over the induction of the president in 1821, and he is very proud of this achievement. and this is a phrase from his memoir, and it's written in the third person, and that's not common with webster. think of the education of henry adams, classic 19th century memoir. you think it's about somebody else but it's henry adam that writes it. and this is house webster writes about himself. the principle event which took place -- he didn't like his first name, noah, -- resided in amherst in which he was concerneds a an actor in the establishment of a college in that town. here's his later life. webster is an very canny business man. remember the book tour, and establishing the infrastructure of the publishing business, and no one is about in an american dictionary. so, he wants to go to europe.
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he moves back to new haven in 1823. wants to go to europe for research, and has new idea. he is always having these marketing brainstorms, and his new brain storm is to write a universal dictionary, which would be valid in both america and england. to market it in both places. and he wants to set up a conference between oxford, cambridge, and him to decide what universal english is going to be. but oxford and cambridge aren't buying. so, if they had, today we might spell color without a u on both sides of the pond. but they're not buying. then he goes back to his original plan, which is to write the american dictionary, and that comes out in 1828. webster has one assistant on the dictionary, this fellow named
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james gates percival. and i'm finding these lex coggraphers are -- james gates was a yale student who was a medical student. never practiced. he once touched a woman when he was aned a less september, -- aned a less -- adolescent, and he runs out of the house. percival tries to correct his boss, and web store wrotes a letter to a friend, many absurd things i have removed, because he understands the etymology is wrong, and the miriam webster come would figure that out letter. weber and and percival don't get long, and the dictionary is a one-man operation. the reviews are fantastic, but
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webster makes his money from the abridged dictionary. that sells well. the really fat webster's doesn't kemp it's the collegiate dictionary which sells, at least until the digital age. webster is getting obsessive and can't be without compiling, so he wants to do another edition, and to the horror of his family, at the age of 80, he mortgages his house to publish a second edition, and he keeps going, and he keeps working on definitions until the day he dies. the 1844 edition, he includes words -- webster, this is what he did better than everyone else. he keeps track of the american language, and in 1844, the words -- there's editions, published number 1844, and he is including works like arrow aero taxes, and puritan cal, and
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harvard has emdickenson's copy of the 1844 edition, and emily dickenson returns to it as her sole companion, and that tells you as much about her as the dictionary. she referred to that dictionary constantly in writing her poet trip. i capped the dictionary, and has a green marble foreedge, and the edge is warn out, and you have a sense emily dickenson lived in that dictionary. i want to talk about what happened the dictionary after webster's death. he dies in 1843. in 1847 the miriam webster company takes over, they start printing small revisions, and i had a piece about this major revision in 1864. and that's the first modern
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american english dictionary you recognize. webster's dictionary is going to have a lot of personal things, as i told you. he defines marriage as a covenant between man, woman, and god. and webster was a describer. there's an age, old debate about whether lexicologigraphers should describe the lang or prescribe the language and this came to a headin' 196 when the editors included the word "ain't" in the dictionary. there was 25-page rebuttal in "the new yorker." they had a cartoon of a miriam webster picking up the phone saying, the editor ain't in. ten years later the furor died down, and today description is considered the norm, and webster himself says this, quoting cicero, the norm of language is usage, and if sarah palin uses
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refudiate enough, someone like webster might be schemish when squash schemish when he hears it the first time but he has to stick it in the edition area. webster would describe language and prescribe how to live. so some of his religious beliefs were in the dictionary, and the miriam webster company would take out these personal references, calls james webster a born definer, they also -- they had this crisis, and i crooked at the corporations at yale, and there was a crisis because they realized the etymology was way off base and they were worried the dictionary would lose its market share if they didn't fix it. they hire a guy from germany, and take the etymologies out. one point i want to leave you with is this dictionary, the 1864 dictionary, was the best dictionary of the 19th 19th century, and webster's
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dictionary throughout the 19th 19th century was val philadelphia both england and america. the british courts would cite websters, and new haven was the world capital of english lexicography, until 1864. to make that case i talk about this obscure fell, you're w.c. minor. those who wade "the professor and the mad man" may know who w.c. minor is, he was another lex coggrapher who was troubled. much more troubled than webster. he killed someone. he was another yale medical student like percival, who was in the civil war as a doctor, and probably had post-traumatic stress disorder and killed someone and was locked in an insane asylum, and from that asylum, he gave james murray
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tens of thousands of illustrative quotations for the oxford disk, dictionary, and simon winchester is a brit, and the brits have written the hit of lexicography, and my point is the american were damn good and we shouldn't forget it and that minor -- winchester didn't realize that minor actually worked on webster's 1864 edition, and i looked at the corporations correspondence, and he was the one weak leak. minor was supposed to do the natural history definitions and they were really lousy, and so the future star of the oed couldn't cut it as an american lex coggrapher, and i just want to highlight how impressive that dictionary and is that we should be very proud of our tradition of american lex cog graph y.
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i'll stop there and take questions. >> when will your appear on c-span? >> i'm not sure when it's going to air. >> when? >> will that be on brian lamb's q & a program? >> i think it's going to be a telecast off a lecture. >> i know people in those days knew a lot more languages than we know now. how many languages was noah webster conversant with? >> yes. that a very good question. webster -- again, he claimed
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that he knew 26 languages. but he also claimed that he wrote a brilliant etymology, and i tried to figure out how many were for real and how many for show, and i think he knew about six very well, but -- and he had a kind of quick knowledge of the other 20, but it really -- but it's been said he knew 26 languages, and i think that's a little bit -- that's a little bit p.r. i think he knew -- he had a quick knowledge -- basic -- he could maybe translatate or new some basic terms in 26 languages but he didn't know all 26 languages backwards and forwards as some people claim. >> he made you of that knowledge, i assume, when he was trying to trace osmology back to noah's arc. >> exactly. , yes.
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>> did he take the ours and the r es out because he didn't like the french? was there a reason he was trying to defrankophile the british and english -- why that particular aggressive part of that? >> i think the u, he takes out, and he goes back and forth on the u, and eventually comes out in the speller still has it. i think that's efficiency and simplicity. and the r-e, may have something to do with the french, but i think he wanted to give america a distinct flavor. >> the o-u-r is french, too. >> yeah. [inaudible] >> ones he didn't use, he rejected them because he thought they were inaccurate of out of date? what was wrong? >> in the book i give specific
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examples. webster was much more -- had a much better an littic mine than johnson. he was an obsessive and liked to get things exactly right, and i think johnson was vague, sometimes, and webster would really think it true. i think that's really his chief contribution, is just the precision of the definitions. another contribution is that -- remember, johnson is using shakes per, -- shakespeare, and webster says the chief glory of a nation is its authors, and although we don't have a great playwrite lake shakespeare, he puts american literature on the world stage and shows our writers can stack up against writers from anywhere, and i think that's a big part of that
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contribution, that after the 1828 dictionary appears american culture really has arrived. >> you had a note in there about the global warming essay. you didn't touch upon it. why was that there? >> webster loved -- thick is a passion he shared with thomas jefferson. he counts houses? he also loves to take the temperature. and he loves to crunch the numbers, and jefferson starts taking the temperature in july of 1776. he is at philadelphia, writing the declaration, and he buys a thermometer and starts taking the temperature, and keeps a temperature log for 50 years, and they have a disagreement about global warming, and obviously there are no cars then but the issue was deforestation of states like vermont. jefferson said it had huge impact. webster said it didn't, and
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webster's essay has been hailed by people in the field as a major contribution of the weather patterns in the late 18th century. again, what is amazing is this compulsive energy, except for the etymology, usually leads to impressive results and even though the public health treatise wasn't "skype" by today's standards, it still is an important contribution, and given the constraint the day, it was a remarkable piece of work. >> did he collaborate with a printing press company? >> everything -- i think -- i mean, he did write everything. i think for the later editions, he may have had -- again, it's hard to see exactly because there's no dictionary from a to z, so the pagers are scattered.
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seems certainly as he was going along, most was in his own hand, at least e least for the first dictionary, in the second dictionary, he is over 80 and has describes -- scribes or other people helping him you discussiones his obsessions obsd compulsions might be hard on his family. do you have any evidence of that? >> he had one son and six daughters, and his son was very bright and studied classics out yale but he never graduated. his letters are sad. he was depressed, and he worked on the dictionary, because because he didn't have a college degree, he could never been a full-fledged did for, and i have a feeling being noah webster's son was very difficult, and his wife was very -- kept an orderly house. it was perfect fit for him. and she didn't complain. but you had a sense that she was
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doing everything that she wanted and must have taken a toll on her, even if she doesn't talk about it explicitly in the letters. you have a sense he was very demanding. there are also letter is quote in the book between webster and his daughters, and webster is on a trip, and rather than -- he had a hard time connecting with other people, even though he had a large family, and he was a loving person. words were always his best friends, and he writes a letter to his daughters about a trip he is taking, and he tries to give them like a geography lesson, and he has a hard time just relaxing and being himself with other people. everything has to have a purpose, and have a sense that the daughters felt a little uncomfortable around him at times. >> excuse me. we know that noah webster changed the spelling of a number of words, like labor and color
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and theater, itself. there were a lot of other words he changed the spelling of, which never were accepted. >> exactly. >> i'd appreciate your commenting on why they weren't accepted or what forces prevented their being accepted. >> webster had a lot of different spelling ideas in the book. he and franklin wanted to change the alphabet. he writes a book in 1790 where he wants wants to get rid of esd in the 1828 dictionary, he wants to spell women, w-i-m-e-n, and it's an alternative spelling. johnson is the authority, and webster says, people -- the way i'm going to replace johnson is to prove i'm the authority and i can go back to angelo sack john, and he said women, wimin, is closer to angelo sackon, and i had an anglo sackon scholar look
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at the book, and he does -- throughout his life he endorsed a lot of eccentric spellings and some of them are in there as alternative spellings in 1828. by the time miriam webster gets hold of the dictionary, they're going to normalize everything to what you recognize today. >> you mentioned noah webster was an obsessive-compulsive? was he as berger? >> ing we, asberger, they caulk about co-morbidity, and those are similar. people with as bergers, two different ways of looking at it and you can make a case -- i never met him in the flesh and diagnosis is an interpretation, and i think my interpretation is one reasonable one. i think -- i'm trying to capture
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this very complicated person and get a sense of what motivates him, and i think looking at obsessions and compulsions is one way of assessing. the problem with as bergers, obsessive tells you what is going on inside that person's head, so i find it a more colorful diagnosis, even the as berger might be more accurate. >> next year i the bicentennial of the beginning of the war of 1812. was web stare typical new englander in the sense he was opposed to mr. madison's war? >> exactly. >> did he have any forrest gump moment? >> i left the south because i've been talking in massachusetts, and this is my connecticut talk.
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webster is in amherst, and mr. madison's war, and they ahead mr. madison and they ahead the virginiaans. you have jefferson and now madison, and webster is a delegate from amherst, and he gives a speech in 1814, in which he advocates the necessity for a new constitutional convention, and it's called the hartford convention that take place in december of 1814. remember, webster is very contradictory, and the 1780s he is all about unity. in 1814, he is not a delegate to the hartford convention because you have to be born in the state you represent, he was born in connecticut and living in amherst. the hardford session, they take up secession, and webster says the urgencies are the same as they were in 1785, and the hartford convention fizzles out because the war of 1812 ends and
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there's no need for secession, and the south later takes up the ideas of the hartford convention, to the day he died, webster was firm believer in the hartford convention and that gives you a sense of his nature, and benjamin franklin once said i have been all my life changing my opinions. i think that also characterizes webster, and benjamin franklin was webster's inspiration. he also did many kind writing, and i think webster patterned his career after franklin. >> that's it. why don't we save a little time for some one-on-one q & a, and i think there's still some books out there. if people haven't received their books, i'm sure they'd love to
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get your at graph. -- autograph. i want to thank josh kendall. >> for more information, visit the author's web site, joshua >> it's a sad day in mrs. kennedy's life. this is the red room, and the reason i show this, that was the first room she completed in the restoration but this was the day of her husband's funeral, and she insisted she immediate those who were coming from afar, those who were diplomats, the diplomatic corps and she stood with her brother-in-law, edward kennedy to her right, and insisted on greeting everybody who came to pay their respects to her husband. on a more grit note, we remember her for her state entertaining. in the short amount of time she was in the white house, only a little over 1,000 days, she and her husband threw 16 state
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dinners. in the first term, full four years, of the w. bush term, they ahead believe it was two now, mind you 9/11 happen during that time. there will security issues, but the bushes, the second bushes, from texas, were just not as interested in that. they weren't as interested in state entertainment. the weren't as interested in bringing people from abroad and entertaining them at the white house. the kennedys loved that lifestyle. they both came from the northeast. they both had ties to new york city. president kennedy has ties to hollywood, going back to his father's day there as a hollywood mogul in the 1920s. so they loved that glimmer and that pan natch of entertainment. but they also, particularly mrs. kennedy, lovedded the arts. so she would use each and every one of these state entertainment occasions to bring artists to the white house.


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